THE master is the authority in command of a ship, and
the contract with seamen for the voyage is made between
the master and the crew. The shipowner is not a contract-
ing party and has no legal position in this matter.
Seamen must be engaged before a superintendent of the
Ministry of Transport and must sign the ship's articles
making their contract with the master for the intended
voyage. These articles contain the following particulars—
1. Nature of the voyage and length of time.
2. Number of crew, and the capacity in which each
3. Amount of wages to be paid.
4. Time of commencement of work.
5. Scale of provisions to be supplied.
6. Regulations regarding fines, etc.
The crew agree by signing the articles to serve, obey, and
be diligent in carrying out their duties, and in a time of
danger to do everything possible to save the ship, without
regard to the work or without expectation of extra pay for
the extra work undertaken in such a time. Should they
refuse such extra duties in a time of stress then such refusal
may be deemed an act of wilful disobedience.
There is no necessity for a master to sign on any sailor as
a member of his crew who does not understand English
sufficiently to carry out the commands or orders of the
The nature of the voyage and the duration is usually
stipulated in a manner sufficient to cover all time taken on
the voyage, for the crew may, on the termination of their
period of engagement, demand their wages and dose the
contract This, of course, would often leave the owner in
an awkward position, especially if the contract terminated
at a remote or inconvenient spot.